The Lesson @ The Hope Theatre, London

Written by Eugene Ionesco
Directed by Matthew Parker
25th September – 13th October 2018

Written in 1951, set in the near future, Ionesco’s savagely absurd play about language and power is fresh and thrilling in this small theatre.

Bright white chairs and a table are being scrubbed clean by a harried Maid – Joan Potter, who embodies a voice of reason and an emotional heart in the unfolding horror of the story. She works for the Professor, an elderly intellectual who takes on students for prepare them for their exams – Roger Alborough uses a sonorous voice and tactical silences to create a character both hilarious and intimidating. The show is a little stolen by the young, eager, doomed Pupil – Sheetal Kapoor, whose mobile face and quivering physical presence were absolutely magnetic. The entire cast provide exceptional, fascinating performances.

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This production is expertly directed by The Hope’s artistic director, Matthew Parker, who clearly delights in the curious language of the play – it’s easy for Ionesco’s work to be boring on the stage, and this show never was.

The entire space has been utilised by Rachel Ryan, the designer – the walls are chalked with equations, nonsense sentences in French and some kind of odd symbol which will certainly never become relevant. The soaring and slurring music, provided by sound designer Simon Arrowsmith, creates humour and horror throughout the seventy minute run.

I strongly recommend this eternally relevant play to everyone – though perhaps not for the faint of heart.


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